Bitch in a Box: Holiday Gift Guide, Large-Breed Dog Owner Edition

When I adopted my German Shepherd/Husky mix almost four years ago, I—to paraphrase Parks and Recreation's Chris Traeger—lit-rally had no idea what I was in for. Since that fateful day in March 2009, Mariah Carey (named by the shelter for her good looks and vocal range) has shaped my life in many ways. And that's why my 2012 holiday gift guide has the needs of the large-breed dog owner firmly in mind.

An extremely cute German shepherd
Mariah, in the bandana she picked out for herself. 

Here's what I'd recommend for folks who own large, intelligent (or not) dogs. First, never underestimate the power of a hooded sweatshirt. Let's be honest, when you wake up in the morning because the dog is crying and it's time for a walk, any climate—whether we're talking about 80 degrees and sunny or -20 degrees and hailing—is going to be too much to endure. You just woke up. You're cold. And you want to feel like you're still cozy in bed, even though in reality, you have uncomfortable boots on and may or may not be sleepwalking the dog. Point is, a hooded sweatshirt on sale fits the bill and eases the pain. Large-breed dog owners, holler back.


Since we're already moving through the sequence of a day, let's talk about coffee. Or tea. Or just something that brings you to the level of alertness every single dog in this world seems to be at instantly after opening his or her eyes each morning. That's right, large breed dog owners probably love/desperately need a cuppa joe. Or Earl Grey. Or whatever. My favorite coffee spots are right here in Portland, and I highly recommend giving the gift of their goodness. Caffé Vita roasts right in the middle of their shop, and oh yeah…it's right across from our HQ! Stumptown? Yes please. And hey, since I'm from Vermont, here's a plug for Speeder and Earl's!


Okay. Now we're ready for the walk. We have the coffee/tea in hand. The sweatshirt maintains an illusion of sleeplike conditions. But wait! Poop bags are essential to maintaining neighborly manners, a stable community, and, last but not least, sanitary water runoff (that's right folks, picking up your dog's poop is also a matter of global health!). Some people argue that, honestly, poop- bag holders are a non-necessity, a first-world indulgence. I've been there. In fact, secretly (shh!) I'm still there.  But if you said to me, "Kate, how many poop bags do you think are floating around your house, just waiting to be found in one triumphant moment of bliss?" I'd say, "Between eight and ten thousand." That's where the poop bag holder comes in. Etsy is the perfect place to find these affordable gems, people. And there's bound to be something to fit every dog owner's style.


With the walk accessorized—and, depending on what poop-bag holder you've chosen, possibly even bedazzled—it's time to move on to another must-have for any large-breed dog owner. And that's the tag silencer. That's right, folks! Someone actually MADE UP A SYNTHETIC POUCH FOR YOUR DOG'S TAGS. Now, it may not be obvious to the dogless just how important this little item is. But let me tell you, if you get just one thing on this list, the tag silencer is your best bet. See, when Mariah Carey wakes up in the middle of the night, circles the bed 14 times, and finally arrives in the exact same spot she was before, somewhere in there  she's going to decide that it's crucial that she shake her whole body. And when she does that, the tags make a sound that is akin to every alarm in the house going off at the same time. Goodbye, deep sleep. Goodbye, REM cycles. Hello, heart attack. And hello, tag silencer.

With that, this gift guide for large-breed dog owners comes to a close. Here's my ultimate tip: A large-breed dog owner needs love. And love comes in many, many forms. Happy holidays, people!


Kate Lesniak is the publisher at Bitch Media.

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4 Comments Have Been Posted

Dogs are companions not property

First, let me say thank you for adopting and not buying a dog, especially a large breed adult dog. We in rescue know that these are the hardest to find furever homes for. But please. PLEASE do not refer to your companion as property. As long as human animals see non human animals are property and things, nothing will change. Speciesism involves the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership, just as sexism assigns different values/or no values to people of a given gender. Animals are people, my friend. Go vegan!


The paragraph where the author is describing the need for tag silencers - I was howling with laughter (ok, no more doggie puns). But it's true - my two (also rescued) do that multiple times a night; that description was oh-so spot on! What's up with going back to the SAME spot?? It seems like a lot of effort for very little gain...

And my two cents - I'm a vegan and I have two rescue dogs that live with me; I probably refer to them too often as "the boys", and they may or may not have a more comfortable bed then me...but I refer to myself as their owner. Because I am responsible for their food, care, well being, and behavior. I'm not trying to be a species-ist, and I think it's always good to check our language. But not all vegans think the term "owner" is bad. Or, at least (and more accurately) I don't think the term owner is bad.

Elk/Deer horns!

Give them an elk or a deer horn! I have a huuuuuge German Shepherd who loves to chew and i bought him a deer horn from our pet store. They are shed naturally (so no guilt there) and last forever and ever. They wont break like many other toys, and my dog cannot get enough of it. Best purchase I ever made (except for you know, my dog.)

I take off her collar when at home cause that´s more comfortabl

Hi, great of you to take a shelter dog!
I have one too and I love her more than anything/anyone else in the world :-)
When we´re at home however, I un-collar her because that´s more comfortable for her and also it´s better for the coat on her neck. (though I use a well-padded collar)
Also, when I´m outside walking with her over fields where she can run free, the clinking of her tags lets me know where she is/if she comes running or isn´t moving without having to look at her constantly, esp. when she´s behind me, so I find THAT quite useful for keeping track of her at all times.
So what I bought her for Christmas this year was a red glowing collar for walks in bad weather, dusk, dawn, night and a weatherproof winter coat for when temperatures get extreme because she is short-haired.
Concerning the term 'owner', I don´t mind that, because she 'owns' me too, very much so! I say so to other 'owners' quite often ;-)
I´m her human, we belong together and we both know it. I don´t treat her like 'property', though she does me, when others want to access me, she´s protective of me and the other way around.
If I talk to another person´s dog, I don´t say "Look, your owner´s calling for you!" but rather use sth along the lines of "Where´s your mommy/daddy?" I know, I know, that can´t be politically correct either but I don´t think the dogs mind and none of the 'owners' have complained yet..
What I might find more problematic might be 'mistress/master', cause Meli ( 'my' dog) isn´t a slave but my beloved friend and very highly valued companion.

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